March 24, 2009

Ender Series

Last night I finished my obsessive tear through Orson Scott Card's Ender Series. I had read Ender's Game a number of years ago and throughly enjoyed it. Towards the end of January the lunchtime conversation at work turned to the most recent book in the series and that it was a good read. Since I wasn't really into my other reading options at the time, I thought I'd start reading the series. Rereading Ender's Game, which is one of only about half a dozen books I've ever reread, I became enamored with the characters and the idea of reading the rest of the series. If you haven't read the series I've probably let drop some spoilers below so be warned.

The writing isn't highbrow by any means, which the author freely admits to, making the books quick reading. The themes introduced in Speaker for the Dead didn't feel as science fiction themed as Ender's Game but do explore humans interacting with an alien race perceived to be less technologically advanced. The action continues with Xenocide and Children of the Mind regaining some of the science fiction themes with the introduction of instantaneous travel, items created through thought, and adaptable viruses. The religious mumbo jumbo he starts to throw in with the Path world and the various people visited by Peter started to get annoying, but overall the first four books of the series are great reading.

Ender's Shadow starts a four book series focused around Bean, who was first introduced in Ender's Game. I find Bean as interesting a character as Ender but with this book the story line turns more towards Earth and starts a downward trend into focusing on religious and political themes. This trend continues in Shadow of the Hegemon and becomes overly religious in Shadow Puppets only to be equaled by an overly political Shadow of the Giant. Needless to say I only enjoyed the first of the Bean quartet.

First Meetings and particularly A War of Gifts: An Ender Story felt like the author needed a quick dollar or two. They are both short and while First Meetings does fill in the background of how major characters met, A War of Gifts is a complete throw away and could stand not to have been written. Star Wars Holiday Special anyone?

The latest book, Ender in Exile, gets back into a more science fiction themed world with new creatures and telepathy while helping fill out various story lines introduced in earlier books. However, as with the entire series there are plenty of ideas mentioned that could themselves become books if they were ever explored. In general though Ender in Exile is a welcome return to the style of the first five books versus the other books in the shadow series.

Now that I'm caught up with the series I'm find myself brooding over what was brought to my attention while reading the series. I strongly disagree with Orson Scott Card's personal views on many issues. In retrospect, matching the timeline of when the some of his books were written to his political writings I find myself thinking that those shadow books I disliked so much seemed to be espousing his world views about marriage, religions, and politics.

My dilemma is this: Do I not read any of his future works because his view of the world doesn't agree with mine? How much of a hypocrite am I for having finished reading the series even though partway through it I became away of his injudicious personal views?

Tags: books ender